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The transcendent voice of recovery mentors in mental health: a philosophical reflection

Jean-François Pelletier

*Corresponding author: Jean-François Pelletier jean-francois.pelletier@yale.edu


In a globalized world health and illness know no frontiers. Pandemics have never been limited to political borders and the contemporary campaigns to prevent them can be effective only when addressed not only internationally but also with the application of integrated disease management in order to respond to problems caused by the silo approach. In any case, it appears that global health has been constantly in redefinition. With this commentary a phenomenological redefinition of global health is proposed as an integrative strategy. Phenomenology prioritizes and investigates from the first-person point of view how the human being experiences the world, as it explores the unique meaning of the lived experience of being human. We are particularly interested in verifying if and how, from a first-person point of view, the lived experience of mental illness and of recovery can contribute to a more integrated definition of global health. In the field of mental health, formal peer support is a mentor/mentee relationship, and as such it is an emotional and practical support between two people who share a common experience of a mental health challenge or illness. Peer support is a system of giving and receiving help founded on key principles of respect, shared responsibility, and mutual agreement of what is helpful. It is about understanding another’s situation empathically through the shared experience of emotional and psychological pain. And when speaking in public, a recovery mentor accepts to disclose and to be recognized as a (former) mental health service user. That person knows that there is a possibility of being stigmatized, but yet remains courageously engaged towards the promotion of change and in solidarity with people who are suffering worldwide and who may not have this opportunity to speak freely.

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